Posts

Showing posts from October 25, 2014

Microsoft's Band Looks Mighty Impressive

Image
Microsoft didn't launch a smartwatch today, as many had expected, rather it showed its own take on the fitness band, showing an insight into the market that has bypassed many.

However like its only real direct competitor - the Samsung Gear Fit - battery life is going to be a big friction point for those who buy this over a more traditional fitness band.

In truth both Microsoft and Samsung have delivered something that sits in the middle ground between smartwatch and fitness band. Not quite the full smartwatch experience, but more than a plain fitness band. The big problem with this is battery life. The Gear Fit can stretch to three days without charging, but you're more likely to want to juice it up after two. Microsoft claims two days for the Band, but we'll have to see what it's like in the real world before taking that as gospel.

Two to three days without charging just isn't long enough to be better than a smartwatch - with the LG G Watch R already claiming two…

News Publishers Don't Understand How The World Works Today

Image
The Verge is reporting that Spanish publishers have succeeded in getting their government to pass a law requiring news aggregators to link to their articles. In terms of stupid decisions it ranks up there with the worst of them.

This comes less than a week since German publishers, who secured a similar ruling, backed down and allowed Google a free license to publish extracts from their news articles.

It appears that those who publish news on the web don't really understand which side their bread is buttered on.

Google's News search tool takes their content to a wider audience, generating more clicks and page views and ultimately more advertising. If Spanish news sites follow the Germans in demanding a licence for republishing extracts from their content, Google will stop listing them in search sites and the drop in traffic will hurt them significantly more than they understand.

For news producers, as for the music industry, the world has changed. The democratisation of the co…

Tablet Market Still Growing As iPad Sales Slow

Image
The iPad used to be the tablet market, but it looks like that star has passed. Last week we heard how Apple's sales of it's various iPad range had tanked by nearly 13% year on year; and today we have another market report, this time from IDC, showing that the overall tablet market had grown by 11%. Most of that growth has come in the US, where year on year sales are up by more than 18% - and the big winner has been Samsung, whose global sales are up by 6% and is now selling almost as many Galaxy tablets as Apple sells iPads.

Apple has traditionally eschewed market share for profits, but seeing sales fall in a growing market is much more worrying than, for example, the smartphone market where the iPhone is losing market share but increasing sales.

Samsung will be looking over their shoulders at both Asus - whose growth was driven by sales of Windows tablets, a market that Samsung has all but abandoned - and RCA, whose near doubling of sales in the bargain basement promises the…

How Samsung Can Build Profits From Commodity

Image
Samsung's disappointing financial results point to a significant challenge to its current business model and unless it carefully reviews it business goals it faces the same slide from relevance as Nokia and Sony have before it.

Samsung is currently the number one Android phone and tablet OEM in the world, and Android is the largest smartphone and tablet OS in the world. So you would think that things are peachy for the business. However another disappointing set of financial results shows that things are sliding at Samsung and, as we've seen in the past, once things start sliding it's very hard to arrest.

The first problem that Samsung has to address is how it target its business, because it's not competing with Apple in most markets. Samsung's competition is coming from Chinese OEMs like Huawei, ZTE and Xiaomi. In the low and mid-range of the Android market phones have become commodity items, on commodity hardware and running commodity software there's no rea…

The First Smatchwatch You Might Actually Wear

Image
This is the LG G Watch R. Clunky name, anything but clunky watch. Nothing else that has been announced before has had the wrist-appeal of this device and LG could be onto a real winner here.

The GWR features a true round screen (unlike the Moto 360 which has a punctured tyre motif, thanks to its 'chin') and looks like... a watch. In fact until you start doing smartwatch type things on it people around you will be unlikely to even notice it.

That's a big plus point for me. As are the two day battery life (as tested by TechRadar) and the always on watch face - a benefit of the OLED screen.

In all respects this looks like the smartwatch to beat. From the first round of Android Wear releases anyway.

There have been rumours that Google would like to make Android Wear compatible with iOS. It would certainly be interesting to see how many customers would take the GWR over the Apple Watch, which for all its hype promises to have disappointing battery life and doesn't have any…

Smartphone Market Share Still Tipping Android's Way

Image
Kantar WorldPanel has released its sales numbers for the third quarter of 2014 - and the news continues to be excellent for Google, so-so for Apple and disappointing for Microsoft.

Apple's release of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus produced a bump in sales for those markets where it was available, yet in every one of those countries (except Spain) Android grew faster and added more sales.

In the US and Japan Apple's year on year market share fell by 3.3% and 15.9% respectively. I have to assume that in both countries this was as a result of constrained supply, combined with an explosion in the number of smartphones sold (up 35% in the US).

For Google the news was as good as it could get. Excluding China (where growth was enormous, but probably relates to AOSP phones rather than Android with Google phones) Android market share now stands at better than 70% in every market measured bar the USA (62%), GB and Australia (58% in each).

For Microsoft, Windows Phone market share was down…

Apple Watch: Tim Cook Sets Battery Expectations

Image
Tim Cook's appearance at WSJ.D yesterday produced some interesting titbits, none more so than his comment on the Apple Watch battery life: "You're going to wind up charging it daily".

I suspect that the plan is for the Watch to juice up overnight on your bedside table - no doubt with some form of bedside clock screen saver so that you can tell the time without having to touch it. However Apple has recently been guilty of over-promising and under-delivering, especially with battery life, more so with recent releases. As a result I'm not convinced that it can deliver a device that matches the use cases it has suggested and still gets a full day on a charge. Historically, iPhones (barring the 6 Plus) have been unable to go dawn to dusk without juicing up, never mind wake to sleep.

Taking your Watch off to charge it could become part of the afternoon routine for early adopters and that doesn't sound like the sort of watch I'd be happy to use.

Apple has left …

Metal Is A Dumb Choice For Making A Smartphone

Image
Building a smartphone out of metal introduces all sorts of compromises - not least the way that metals block the very wireless signals that are the lifeblood of a smartphone. People will tell you that the metal feels premium in the hand and that's worth the compromise.

The Verge has an article today on an NPD report that says that 75% of smartphone users and 87% of iPhone users have their phone wrapped up in a case. Personally Id say those figures are on the low side. Other than my own, I can't remember seeing an iPhone that isn't wrapped up in one sort of case or another.

So most of those users who bang on about the premium materials in their Apple and HTC smartphones never see or feel them from the moment of unboxing and installation into a case until the day they sell them to the next user, who presumably does exactly the same thing. All that effort in creating a metal design, ensuring a perfect finish, making the aerial lines look anything but ridiculous (okay, maybe …

New iPad Screens Slammed, Samsung Galaxy Tab S Still Tops

Image
The great thing about DisplayMate's screen testing is that it is completely quantative, there is no emotion or objectivity involved, it's all about numbers, testing display parameters and rating displays based on the observed results.

Last month the iPhone 6/6 Plus failed to knock Samsung off the top of the perch when DisplayMate tested them - the Note 4 and Galaxy S5 were rated superior to the new iPhones.

Now the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 have received the DisplayMate treatment and the results look very bad for Apple.

The iPad Air 2 was praised for its new anti-reflection coating, but otherwise it was a disappointment - DisplayMate rated it lower than Amazon, Google and Microsoft tablets and it was nowhere near as capable as the class leading Galaxy Tab S. In fact other than the anti-reflective coating the iPad Air 2's screen was rated behind the original iPad Air as well.

If the results for the iPad Air 2 were disappointing, those for the iPad Mini 3 were disgrace…

Rewards In Sport Come From Marketability, Not Gender

Image
This article on the BBC discusses research that finds an inequality between men and women's prize in 30% of professional sports. Apart from the fact that this hardly seems like the most pressing topic for the time of the UK Government, it's a rather nonsensical study, which vastly misunderstands the concept of prize money as a reward for earning money for a sport's promoter.

Of the sports identified the really big differences occur in the areas of Football, Cricket and Golf. These sports are hugely popular - or at least the men's versions are. Men's professional football is the most popular spectator sport. Women's football isn't. By a really long way. Not that this means the women are any less capable of playing the game, or it's any less entertaining. But the money that can be earned from sponsors, gate receipts and television deals is several orders of magnitude larger for the men's games and as a result the rewards are higher. I can't see h…

Humanity Sinks To An All New Low

Image
What's the first thing that crosses your mind when you hear about people dying of a terrible, debilitating disease, with high communicability, and long term prospects for global health. If you're American businessman Jon Schultz it's probably how can I best turn this to a profit?

Schultz bought the ebola.com domain in 2011 after first hearing of the disease. He's now flipped it to a Russian company at a outrageous profit.

Unbelievable. Next up, bubonicplague.com, nucleararmageddon.com and airbornedeath.com.

The full story is here at The Verge.

F1: Caterham And Marussia To Miss Next Two Races, Three Car Teams On The Cards

Image
Fernando Alonso may yet have a seat at Mercedes next year after all. The Double World Champion has been lusting after a seat with the all-conquering Silver Arrows all season but was frozen out thanks to the solid contracts in place for Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

New developments at the back of the grid mean that the possibility that teams might have to enter three cars in the 2015 Championship. Neither Caterham nor Marussia will be making the trip to the United States, and thanks to the double header nature of the following race in Brazil the following weekend, won't be making that race either.

Given that neither team's financial position looks viable it seems unlikely they'll make it to the season finale either. And next season? Not much chance there either.

As a result the agreement between the teams and rights holder (a certain Mr B. Ecclestone Esq.) will require that the remaining nine teams enter three cars in 2015. A prospect that no doubt has Fernando Alonso …